After reading an article on The Economist website entitled “Kodak Moment,” I realized that what we are going through right now in the E-cigarette industry is exactly what Kodak went through at the tail end of the advent of digital photography. Essentially, they missed the S.S. Megapixel by resting on their proverbial laurels. They also got caught with weapons-grade uranium (seriously, Google it!), but that’s another story altogether. When they finally realized what had happened, they were forced to downsize considerably and fervently search for a new avenue of revenue. As a metaphor for the E-cigarette industry’s current position, “Kodak” is the Anti-Tobacco Movement, which has become almost (and most certainly in their won eyes) too big to fail. So, instead of adapting to the new technology, thus avoiding another history-making “Oops,” they are fighting tooth and nail against inevitable change that is taking place whether they like it or not. This reminds me of Danny DeVito’s “Buggy-Whip” speech at the climax of Other People’s Money (Netflix it!). Some company, somewhere, probably made the best damn buggy-whips in the world. But along comes Henry Ford, and they’re out of business, despite the pride in their work, the selflessness in their adamancy. Here is a short list of regretful (and occasionally humorous) “Oops” moments in science, technology, and medicine that will soon include one more item if the ANTZ, FDA, WHO, EU, and so many other supposed “health” organizations don’t get with the times right quick:
- In the 5th Century B.C., famed Ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, said that the practice of writing would undoubtedly make people forgetful and lazy. Although I’m a huge fan of the first of the three great Greek philosophers, everyone can be wrong occasionally, and Socrates certainly was in this instance.
- Once upon a time, doctors routinely sliced through the gums of infants in order to allow their first set of teeth to come in… hence the expression “cutting teeth.” Obviously this practice has been abandoned as completely unsafe, but you try to tell that to a stuffy, humorless doctor back as recently as the mid-to-late 19th century and see how far you get.
- “The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives.” -This gem poured out of the sceptical lips of an Admiral assigned to duty with the United States Atomic Bomb Project.
- The infamous Chernobyl incident is one of my favorite overreactions in history… not necessarily that people overreacted at the time of its occurrence, but even after the scientific community essentially reinvented the nuclear power plant with an eye towards better safety precautions, the public continues to this day to overreact in all matters involving nuclear power. Modern power plants not only have several safety barriers stacked up on each other, but even much of the “nuclear waste” is recycled in the process.
- Retrospectively stupid statements concerning any type of vaccine are so common that those who make these statements really ought to routinely preface them with something like, “As is stands now…” or “Current studies suggest…” just to give them an escape-from-ridicule clause for the future.
- “There is a world market for maybe five computers… And no more than 5,000 copying machines.” -Statements like this are all too common in the field of technology (to which the industry of electronic cigarettes belongs). This one was said by the head of IBM in the ’40s whilst standing before the future founders of a little company that goes by the name of Xerox, a company whose name is synonymous with the very paper sheets it’s devices produce… by the ga-zillions!
- For many, many, many years, allowing your infant to sleep in bed with you was considered by the medical and scientific communities to be extremely dangerous. Then, all of a sudden, it was not only no longer considered dangerous, but was encouraged for breast-feeding mothers… unless, of course, they’re smokers. Now, maybe if they were vapers…
- Ephedra, which is still a debatable medicine, has run the gamut of being completely acceptable for use in weight loss, to its use as an energy supplement in teas, to its “traditional,” herbal use, to being banned completely because of a few “overdoses.” Who knows what the ultimate fate of this particular drug is? Someday, someone might figure out that ephedra cures some horrible disease like leukaemia, AIDS, or worst of all Government Dumbassery! Then all of those “brilliant” medical professionals are gonna look pretty dumb in hindsight.
- The monumental misnomer of the decade, “The God Particle,” or more accurately the Higgs-Boson Particle, was hailed by many supposed “experts” as something that would end the Earth at best, and the whole Universe at worst. Apparently, nobody learned from that whole Hydrogen bomb thingy where scientists tried to convince the world that the bomb would cause a chain reaction that would destroy the world. The LHC, or Large Hadron Collider, was announced to the world in exactly the same way by the panic-peddling news-media feeding off of the worries of a few overreactors.
This list could certainly go on and on and on and on and on… ad infinitum. There’s a reason that if someone were to ask me, “Do you think that computers will ever become self aware, declare war on humans, turn us all into Duracell batteries, and send a Mr. Universe look-alike android back in time to kill Morpheus’ mother?” I always refuse to respond. I don’t know what the future holds and neither do you. Those same computers could become self-aware and help us all to learn the long-lost art of logic and reason. Concerning the E-cigarette question, are we really afraid that a form of nicotine delivery invented expressly to avoid the toxic chemicals present in the combustion of tobacco plant material is going to pose some horrible threat to humanity? Or are we just dismayed with the thought of having to redesign an entire, multi-billion-dollar industry based on the complete elimination of nicotine in all its forms? Or are we scared of new technology, which is an all-too-common problem throughout history. Many, many times we stood back from technological advancement until it was too late, and the wrong crowd had already moved forward with their abuse of that technology. I hope we can see past unreasonable fears to the benefits that lie beyond. We only have a limited amount of time before it’s too late to act and the Kodak Effect takes place… except that this time, missing the boat could result in millions of people returning to smoking, and all of the cancers and health problems found therein.